ATLANTA -- While lacking in palpable excitement, it was still a great day for golf at East Lake. Sunny, breezy, maybe 80 degrees. The pros were out enjoying a casual practice round, and the fans -- I’d guess about 2,000 are here -- were soaking it all up.
Jerry Keck was lugging a giant cardboard box around the course in search of one man, and one autograph. In the box was a poster-sized black-and-white print depicting more than 50 past Masters champions. It’s a pretty impressive piece. Some 44 players have signed in green ink near their own likeness, including Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Trevor Immelman. Several signatures belong to legends who have since died, including Byron Nelson and Gay Brewer.
"It all started on a dare," says Keck, a 70-year-old native of Roswell, Ga. "I’m a big autograph guy, and one of my buddies saw this picture for sale. He bet me I couldn’t fill it up with signatures, and I took the challenge."
Keck has failed to corner just one living Masters champion to sign his print: Phil Mickelson. As Phil sauntered up to the 10th tee on Wednesday, Keck was told by a club employee that Lefty only signs at the end of rounds; it’s his way of staying focused during practice and preventing mob scenes from tee to tee. Keck concocted a plan to wait for Phil in a prime spot off the 18th green. We’ll see if it works.